OOC: This takes place a few days after "Christmas Comes But Once A Year", but before "A Lemur of a Situation" IC: ((Starbase 118 Ops - Verriar’s Tongo Palace - Holosuite))
Ashley leaned against the bannister and took a deep breath, closing his amethyst eyes and just listening for a moment. The air was salty and fresh, the sound of sea birds high above them. He opened his eyes again and took in the beautiful scenery. The wide open ocean expanded out all around them. His weight leaning on the rail, he leaned over the bannister and looked down to see a gigantic pod of dolphins leaping in the wake of the massive boat. It was coasting along at a good clip.
Turning to look at the deck, he surveyed the offerings. There was an observation deck up above two floors… nothing extremely high but high enough to see all the scenery without obstruction… a large pool, with a built in bar and swimming wait-staff with little floating drink discs… an extremely large chess set with a board painted on the floor of the deck. There was live music playing, a string quartet on the next deck up, which also served as a stage, their beautiful music floating over them and combining with the sound of ocean waves.
There were holographic people, but not too many. Just enough to make it feel not so lonely in the program, and they kept their distance from him. They were more for ambiance than interaction, unless you directly wanted to interact with them.
Yael: ::looking to Alora:: This is very peaceful. It feels like we’re a million miles away from land. From where she stood a few feet away, Alora lifted her glass of some sort of layered drink in various shades of orange and yellow, completely with pink umbrella.
DeVeau: But we are, dahling, we are!
Okay, not a million miles, but far enough that there was no land in sight. They were upon the high seas, not adrift, supposedly with a destination in mind, but not nearly close enough to tell. It didn’t matter . Alora had to admit, she was enjoying the down time, even if she usually liked to have something to do. As she sipped at the fruity drink, she couldn’t help but wonder if that was why Ashley had been so insistent. He’d mentioned before, even before the whole orb fiasco. She supposed there was some truth to it. Of course, she wasn’t going to admit that to him.
Yael: Did you see the dolphins? He turned to look over the bannister again at the water several decks below.
Alora almost spilled her drink as she moved toward the bannister. Except..oh...nope. Not going near. She backed away again, then set her sights further on the horizon. Not being so near wasn’t as bad, and she could see the skittering creatures as they leaped from the water. Yael: There must be thousands of them.
The xenozoologist stared over at the creatures, their cries barely heard above the rush of the water against the boat. Sighing, she sipped at her drink.
DeVeau: If only they were real.
That would have made it far more exciting. It was nice to at least have the view, though. Yael: I do *like* animals. They’re just so *messy* in real life. I don’t think I could have a pet. Unless it was a very special type of animal, I suppose. ::pausing:: It would have to be very *clean*. I’m… a little neurotic about it.
He smiled, then laughed lightly at himself and the thought of a large dolphin hanging out in a bathtub as a pet.
Yael: ::a glint of humor in his eyes:: And I don’t have a bath tub, so I couldn’t keep a dolphin anyway.
DeVeau: Even if you did, they would be far too big.
Yael: Although… I was thinking of pranking the people in the park. I want to set up a holographic projector in a hidden spot and have dolphins and whales show up. Maybe the Loch Ness monster? We can get the rumors *running*.
Completely relaxed, he was letting a little of his real self shine through. It was just him and Alora, and he’d come to know her so well that she felt like family. She knew things about him that *nobody* else knew, and accepted him totally... he felt very *free* with her. It was… a really nice feeling, actually.
DeVeau: Ooo, I like the Nessie idea immensely. Others too. We can turn the base into an aquarium! Her arms extended out, as if she were imagining the idea, but even better. The entire base could experience it first hand! Except that Alora wasn’t sure how Sal would take that. Immediately, she dropped her arms and sipped at her drink, eyes lowering. Thankfully, she had the excuse of the dolphins to attribute to that.
Yael: What should we do first? There are all sorts of activities on the ship.
DeVeau: I don’t know. What do you want to do? Alora didn’t like where her thoughts were taking her. Since the situation at the Bajoran festival, she found herself in many shades of grey, rumbling beneath the murky waters of uncertainty. Sal came to mind far, far too often, and there were still manifestations of emotions she wasn’t sure she was ready to quantify.
Yael: There are restaurants. Gigantic chess… I’ve played three-dimensional chess, but never *giant* chess. The pool, of course… with pool snacks. Have you ever had a snack bar *inside* a pool? It’s so luxurious. What do you think?
DeVeau: Honestly? I’m easy. Just pick something.
Yael: Hmm… ::glancing up at the sun high above::... in the mood for a swim?
DeVeau: I do like to swim.
Yael: Computer… access my files and load my wetsuit. Provide it in the changing quarters on the lido deck. ::the computer complied, then, to Alora:: Be right back.
DeVeau: You know you could just…
But Ashley was gone. Alora shook her head, stood up straight and stretched out her arms - though even that was unnecessary.
DeVeau: Computer, change my outfit into a swimsuit, file Alora DeVeau Swimming 2.
The computer complied, and immediately Alora found herself in a fairly modest one piece suit, a high neck and low cut legs offering quite a bit more modesty than what others she saw wore to such things. The colours were her favourite, Royal purple with an emerald green trim. The only thing missing was silver, but adding it would have made it far too gaudy. So, she did without. Then she simply sipped at her drink and waited for Ashley. Ashley changed quickly, pulling on the full body suit. It wasn’t exactly a wetsuit material… it was softer swimsuit material, but with full legs and arms and a high neck, and didn’t take long for him to slip on.
Stepping up to the edge of the pool, he knew full well the crowd was holographic and Alora was the only person present, but he still tugged at his suit self-consciously. Then dove into the deep end of the warm pool, letting his momentum carry him halfway down its length before surfacing. Denobulans were from a Mediteranian and Tropical environment, after all. Most of them could swim relatively well, and he was no different.
Alora slipped over to one of the chairs nearby and placed her drink in the holder. Now relieved of her minor burden, she took up a position, eyed where she was and where Ashley was in relation to where she was aiming, then set off at a dead run. Arms and legs pumping, she dashed toward the pool, then leaped off the edge. In the air, Alora curled up, clasping her knees and drawing them to her in order to curl up in as tight a ball as possible. With a mighty splash, she landed in the pool, water dousing the nearby Denobulan.
Alora didn’t pop up right away. Instead, she unfurled her body, then turned around. Reaching out, she playfully tugged at Ashley’s ankle, just for a second, just enough to dip him beneath the surface of the water. Then, she turned and quickly swam away, only surfacing once she was out of reach.
Yael: ::blowing a few bubbles before he surfaced:: *Someone’s* feeling the pool today.
With a few strokes he was at the side of the pool, then pushed off beneath the surface and made a bee-line toward her, curling up to the surface a few feet away. Meanwhile, a holographic waitress waded out with a tray of snacks, leaving it floating nearby. He lifted a tiny snack bite from the tray and then sent it spinning gently toward Alora.
DeVeau: Hey! Fortunately, it missed her by a wide margin and Alora stuck her tongue out at her friend.
Yael: It’s strange, swimming in a pool, on top of a giant boat, in the middle of an ocean. Though… fewer sharks.
DeVeau: It really, it depends on the shark. Some aren’t so bad. Just wouldn’t want to get around a great white without the proper equipment. Oh, but whale sharks! I would love to swim with whale sharks!
Yael: *Whale* sharks? They’re *huge!*
DeVeau: Whale sharks won’t eat you.
Yael: I bet they could if they wanted to.
The Denobulan swam gently backwards, but glanced into the water almost nervously… as if there could be a shark in the pool.
DeVeau: Are you kidding? They’re filter feeders. They can’t even bite. You’d just get clogged in the filters.
Diving down before he had a chance to respond, Alora pushed against the edge of the pool, zipping her way toward him. Once more, she playfully tugged at his ankle, then continued swimming, unwilling to linger and allow him to retaliate. Bobbing back up to the surface, she turned and grinned at him.
Yael: ::trying to kick free of her range of ankle grabbage:: I guarantee, whatever shark I ended up in the water with, I would get eaten by it. That’s just my luck.
He said it with a smile as he leaned back to float on the surface, enjoying the warmth of the holographic sun and the feeling of weightlessness in the water.
DeVeau: Because you’re irresistible? Yael: ::exclaiming with humor:: And delicious! Alora smirked, then, with long, broad strokes, she made her way over to the opposite side of the pool. Once there, she hooked her arms over the edge of the pool, as if resting a moment, then whispered.
DeVeau: Computer, fill the entire pool with tiny sharks, about two feet in length.
With that, Alora hopped up and pushed herself out of the water, then turned and sat cross legged on the edge.
Not noticing the change, as he was looking up into the sky, Ashley continued floating for a moment before finally noting motion near him in the water. He glanced toward the motion, expecting to see a holographic swimmer or a floating snack tray… only to see a tiny dorsal fin cut through the water feet from him.
There was an instant instinctive internal panic, and he ended up dunking himself as he righted himself from floating. Two… three, five… and more small sharks circled him in the pool.
He made record speed to the side of the pool and hauled himself up, yanking his feet out of the water as another shark swam past, then he set a solid amethyst glare on his fellow holodecker, noting her clear humor at his predicament.
Yael: The first *real* ocean we visit, I’m throwing you in!
Alora rocked back, hands clasped to her feet and giggled. Oh man, that was a trick.
DeVeau: You should have seen your face!
Yael: ::sniping at her from across the water:: I’m reporting you for attempted murder.
DeVeau: Come on, it was priceless! And you know they won’t bite! Or if they do, it won’t really do anything!
Alora’s eyes twinkled merrily at the man and, without any fear of the critters inside, she let her legs drop back over the side and slid into the water - as if to prove a point.
Yael: ::despite knowing they were safe holograms, he cringed:: It’s an instinct! Can’t blame me for trusting them after they spent hundreds of thousands of years evolving.
And there was no way he was rejoining her with the dozen or so tooth filled mouths in the water, holographic or otherwise.
DeVeau: Come on in, Ashley, the water’s fine. Alora glided through the water, lazily making her way back toward the violet hued man, her eyes still twinkling all the while. He didn’t like the look in her eyes one bit.
Yael: Don’t you *dare.*
DeVeau: You know I’d never do anything that would hurt you, right?
Yael: ::trying not to laugh as he exaggerated, but moved to push away from the edge of the pool:: You absolutely would. I don’t trust you!
The ripples danced off of her form as she slid through the water, breaking the surface tension gently. Finally, she came to his side and rested her arms upon the surface, though the rest of her body remained in the pool.
DeVeau: And why would you not trust me, Ash? What have I ever done to you, huh?
Yael: You can’t ask that and look at me the way you’re looking at me now.
He started to pull his legs out of arm's reach, remembering the ankle grabbing from before. Though he seemed somewhat serious, he still smiled, clearly still having fun with it. Though, his eyes darted to one of the sharks as it swam near to her… and he had to stop himself grabbing her to pull her free from the infested waters.
DeVeau: And how, my dear Ashley, am I looking at you now.
Her chin rested upon her hands where they intersected, those verdant eyes half closed, and a smile still playing over her lips. DeVeau: Do I look like someone who has it out for you? Hm?
Yael: ::without hesitation:: Yes! You plot! You’re a schemer! I should know, I’m a *very* good judge of character.
His eyes drew to the sharks behind her again, and this time he reached out to her.
Yael: Come out of there. You’re stressing me out.
Alora’s head lifted and her eyes went to his hand, then his face, surprise registering on her own.
Yael: Before you die a death of a thousand tiny chomps.
Slowly, she stretched out her hand, allowing him to clasp it, surprised that he didn’t immediately recoil. Using him, Alora pushed while he pulled and came to a seat on the edge.
DeVeau: That’s new.
Yael: ::knowing she meant that he’d *touched* her, willingly:: You were in mortal danger.
Clearly she hadn’t been, but in truth he’d been working on his issue with touch. He’d been training with Anthony, getting occasionally slapped about in a friendly manner by the friendly Marine. There was also the hand-to-hand combat with Anthony and Kherys, which required a lot of hand and arm contact for throws and such. And he’d been getting smashed about in the rink by Ithri during iceball practice a lot lately. He was *almost* able to reach out to Alora without cringing internally… for just a moment.
DeVeau: Oh I see.
Her smile returned, replacing her surprise, and she drew her legs up and crossed them, one over the other. Leaning a little closer, she chuckled softly.
DeVeau: I’m glad to know you’re at least willing to touch me if my life’s in danger. I feel much better now.
Yael: ::being a bit more honest now:: I’ve been working on it. ::then more softly:: Maybe in a few *years* I’ll get somewhere with it.
DeVeau: When you do, can I get a hug?
Yael: A hug…?
DeVeau: Not a quick one, either. A real hug. A long one.
Yael: ::his eyebrows knit together nervously, but he smiled:: I’ll probably have to work up to that. But... I can try.
DeVeau: You can try, huh?
Yael: Just don’t surprise me with it.
Alora offered a small smile. She wouldn’t surprise him, not when she knew how much touch bothered him. She wished it didn’t.
He watched the small sharks swim in circles in the pool for a moment, silently enjoying them now that they weren’t going to be their food.
Yael: I was worried, when I re-upped with Starfleet. That it wasn’t going to work. That I was deluding myself into thinking I could handle it. But… I’m starting to think it was the right call. In the few months I’ve been here, I’ve felt more like *me* than I have in years. I’m glad I was sent here.
DeVeau: I am too.
Alora sighed softly, her eyes following Ashley’s, noting the smooth, flowing motions of the sharks as they glided through the water.
DeVeau: I don’t know where I’d be without you.
Yael: ::laughing lightly:: You’d be less *frustrated*, I think.
Meaning how he tended to get on her nerves, and how many times she had told him to “shut up,” or for how many Betazed meditation orbs she’d exploded after he’d rigged them. He was joking, but Alora wasn’t. Taking a deep breath, she continued to watch the almost lazy movements of the holographic fish.
DeVeau: I don’t care. I don’t think I would have gotten so far without you.
Alora knew she had a long way to go still. A long way to go. Even though it happened less often, she still recognised that she had triggers, things that set her off, that put her mind into a position where she wasn’t thinking straight. Thus far, she had avoided Nijil. And Sal...then there was Sal…
Yael: ::noticing a sudden change in her demeanor:: You okay? Is the water too cold?
DeVeau: No. Just thinking.
Not that Alora usually liked thinking, especially about certain things. It was different with Ashley, though. It still wasn’t comfortable, sometimes she still didn’t want to do it, but she was fighting it a little less.
Yael: What about? ::he drew his feet further from the edge of the pool as a shark splashed just at the edge near them::
DeVeau: Right now? About how grateful I am for you.
Yael: Ah… ::he glanced away nervously for a moment:: … look, Alora. Maybe we should… *clarify* some things.
He set his amethyst eyes on her now and smiled, but his eyebrows were knit together with a little stress. He’d had some thoughts… some feelings… and perhaps she had too.
Yael: Maybe… there are some feelings we *shouldn’t* act on. You know? Because things are really good like they are.
Alora blinked and slowly turned her gaze back to the man beside her.
Yael: I mean about us. I think we work really well… as friends.
DeVeau: Uh….okay. Yael: I’m not saying it wouldn’t be great, if we took it further. It *would* be. But we work together, closely sometimes. And technically I’m in charge of your mental health care. It wouldn’t be *appropriate* for me to… be more. With you.
He was clearly having some trouble choosing the right words, and was trying to do so with great care. Disappointing her was *not* on his to-do list.
For a moment, Alora could only sit and stare. Then she blinked. Then she stared some more. It took a few moments, but slowly the words that Ashley had said finally seeped through. Her thoughts had been on other things, and she’d been tumbling down into much more serious topics, but with the way he expressed himself, the idea that he expressed, she suddenly found laughter bubbling up in her chest, and a moment later, she threw back her head and let it out.
Cocking his head to the side, the Denobulan hybrid blinked in confusion, as if his friend were possessed by an energy being. His jewel tone eyes were wide, and he went quiet for a moment as she laughed, his smile lost to his confusion. This was NOT how he expected a rejection to go. Disappointment, maybe. Tears? Possibly, but not her style. Throwing him into a shark infested pool? Definitely.
Yael: Is… something funny?
DeVeau: No. I mean yes. I mean...oh man, did you think I was trying to tell you that I’m...interested in a romantic relationship or something?
Ensign Ashley Yael
Starbase 118 Ops
Lt. Cmdr. Alora DeVeau
Starbase 118 Ops